An Improper Derailment: Chapter 25

Where Mary has to survive the night

ID ch 25 web image

Catch up with Chapter 24…

Start the series from the beginning…

Mary never expected to actually miss being in the company of a large sauran, but here she is. She trusts Marshall to keep her safe, but he’s just a man.

The fire snapped and crackled as orange flames danced against the dark sky.

Marshall sat at the opening on the shallow cave poking at the fire, keeping the flames high.

Mary sat curled around herself pressed against the back wall.
The chittering sound that had warned them of sauran activity nearby had faded shortly after sunset.

Mary couldn’t get the sound out of her ears. The lowing of cattle turned terrified. She had no ideas that cows could make such terrified screaming sounds. Or maybe that was the beasts they now stayed vigilant against.

“Go to sleep, Mary.”

“If you’re going to stay awake and keep watch, then I shall as well. I can keep you company.”

“I don’t need company. I need you to be able to watch me while I sleep tomorrow.”

“You plan on sleeping do you?”

Marshall adjusted so that the fire illuminated half of his face. His eyes were on her. He was almost handsome.

“Tomorrow we want to get as far out of this area as possible. Those little saurans are territorial. We get out of their area, they leave us alone. You won’t be any good to me, or yourself if you’re tired. You’re a lady, you aren’t used to—”

“Hah!” Mary cut him off with a sharp laugh. “You admit, I’m a lady.”

“And a thorn in my side. Go to sleep, will ya. I need you to keep up in the morning.”

Mary huffed and squirmed in an attempt to get comfortable enough to rest. She slept in fits and bursts. Marshall’s strong back was always there where her eyelids drifted up, opening for a moment, before returning to unsatisfactory sleep.

Her eyes drifted open, the fire was low, too low. Marshall was gone. She felt instantly awake.

“Marshall?” she called out tentatively.

There was no answer.

She crawled forward. She heard the low rumble of some animal growl. She didn’t know if it was mammal or sauran. The stick Marshall had been tending the fire with lay discarded near where he had been sitting.

She reached out and snatched the stick, quickly cowering back against her shelter wall. Poking at the fire she got the fire blazing once more.

Movement beyond the fire caught her eye. It looked like rippling fur.

She shoved her hands into her mouth to keep from screaming. She could not stifle her whimpers of fear. The fire reflected off a pair of bright eyes, wolf eyes.

Mary poked at the fire again.

The wolf drifted into the dark. The fire’s light reflected dimly on the animal’s fur, letting Mary know it was still out there. She hoped that wherever Marshall was. he knew about the wolf.

It didn’t seem to be leaving her, waiting for a midnight snack she guessed.
At least it was on the other side of the flames, and it was keeping the nasty saurans at bay.

Mary stared at the wolf as it faded in and out. She jerked awake, and poked at the fire. It responded and burned brighter. Her eyes couldn’t focus. She thought she saw Marshall.

The next time she opened her eyes, the fire had died down. Marshall was shaking her, and the sun was up.

“Mary time to wake up, we need to get moving.”

Will they get out of the sauran’s territory in time? Find out in the next episode. January 2023

©2022 Lulu M Sylvian

Holiday Reading is Now Here!

I have 3 exciting Christmas Romance Anthologies this year.

Why be nice, when naughty is so much fun


the links you want for these holiday anthologies

A Very Cryptid Christmas

Now available at all major resellers


Christmas Wishes and New Year’s Kisses

Available Now!


Shifter Christmas Howlidays: A Paranormal Romance Anthology



Coming December 1st

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 24

Where Mary learns they have to face another danger


Catch up with Chapter 23…

Start the series from the beginning…

When we last left Mary, she had picked up a big stick.
Now she learns she’ll have to use it.

“I’m not going to like what?” Mary demanded.

“Less chatter, more hustle. We need to get to those rocks.” Marshall took a step back to where Mary stood, wrapped his hand around her elbow, and began walking.

His pace dragged her along.

She had to quicken her step to practically a run.

“Marshall, I’m not going to like what?”

“I’ll tell you when we get to higher ground.”

She wrenched her arm out of his gasp.

“I’ll be able to move faster without you manhandling me.” She lifted the front of her skirts and picked up her pace.

“Come along. Whose dawdling now?”

Marshall chuckled and quickened his pace behind her.

“Do you know how to swing that stick of yours?”

“You mean there is an approved method? Don’t I just wave it about?”

“If you have fire on the end of it—”

“You mean a torch?”

“Yes, a torch. If you have a torch you’ll be able to just wave it about. Otherwise you’re gonna want to swing that stick for protection.”

“You intend that I hit things with it?”

“I intend that you protect yourself with it.”

“Against wolves?”

Marshall cleared his throat. “Against saurans.”

“A little stick is going to frighten off a sauran?” In Mary’s mind, and experience, saurans were large lumbering creatures. Kim was very much the size Mary considered average. Her little stick, even if used as a cudgel would have no impact on Kim.

“That little stick can crack a sauran in the head just fine.”

Mary slowed her pace. Her brows knit in consternation. “Hitting a big beast—”

“Not all saurans are big.”

“I’m sorry, what did you just say? Saurans are huge. Big and smelly.”

“And some of them are small and dangerous,” Marshall chuckled.

“When you say small and dangerous, what are we talking about?”

Marshall held up his hand about waist high. “Small, and dangerous. And we look like lunch.”

“So hit like I’m playing that game croquet?”

“What game?”

“Oh you know. Well, maybe you don’t. It’s a very sophisticated lawn game where one whacks a ball through a wicket with a mallet.”

“Smashing balls with hammers? Doesn’t sound all that sophisticated,” Marshall chuckled.

“Not when you phrase it like that. Must you sully every interaction?”

“Must you insist that everything be prim and proper? Life isn’t always so tidy Mary. It’s messy. The sooner you learn and accept that the easier all of this will be.”

Mary dropped her jaw, prepared to say something indignant.

Without warning, Marshall’s hand clamped over her mouth, and he pulled her back into the shadows of the rocks. At least she had learned enough not to fight him whenever he performed such an undignified action.

She closed her mouth, and forced herself to breathe through her nose.

Marshall’s mouth was next to her ear. She could feel his breath as he whispered. “Listen. They are closer. We need shelter, we need fire.”

Mary nodded against his hand. He removed his hand from her mouth, but he didn’t release his hold of her.

Mary wasn’t sure what to do. She felt safe in Marshall’s arms, but she knew they were both in danger.

“I’ll start picking up smaller branches for a fire as we continue. You find us a cave.”

“That’s a good plan, Mary. Smart. And to think when I first met you… never mind. We might just get through this in one piece.”

Find out in the next installment if they get through in one piece.

©2022 Lulu M Sylvian

This Years Holiday Strippers

Why be nice, when naughty is so much fun


This year’s Holiday Stripper stories can be found in these exciting holiday-themed anthologies:

A Very Cryptid Christmas

This holiday season it’s nice to be naughty. We’ve got some tales that are truly bawdy. In the coldest months of the year, the hottest cryptids come with holiday cheer.

Monsters aren’t just for Halloween.

Coming October 18th


Christmas Wishes and New Year’s Kisses

Christmas Wishes & New Year’s Kisses: a wonderfully festive collection of holiday-themed novellas and short stories from some of the world’s most loved indie authors⁠

Coming November 1st


Shifter Christmas Howlidays: A Paranormal Romance Anthology

Join USA Today Bestselling & Award-winning authors as we come together to celebrate the Howlidays with steamy Shifter Christmas stories just for you.

Lions, Tigers, Dragons, Bears, Wolves, and more await you in this collection of holiday paranormal romance and urban fantasy tales.

Naughty or nice, escape between the pages and get swept away with the new book boyfriends waiting under the tree.

Stories guaranteed to jingle your bells.



Coming December 1st

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 23

Where Mary gets a big stick
limestone pillar formation near Castle Rock in a prairie of western Kansas
Catch up with Chapter 22…

Start the series from the beginning…

When we last left Mary, Mary was pouting as Mary is want to do.

She spent the next several days pouting as she realized that the men in her life had done nothing but make her miserable and that the man she would want to stay with, wanted nothing but a paycheck.

The prairie grasses gave way to more rugged terrain.

“This is where I leave you,” Hanska announced. “Kim much prefers to wade through the grass than she does to wade through rocks. Plus, this is not the territory of my friends. I would not be welcome here.”

“Would we be welcome?” Mary asked.

“We’ll be safe enough,” Marshall said. “It was good to see you, my friend.”

They grabbed each other’s arms and then embraced.

Mary embraced Hanska. “Thank you, my friend. I have learned so much and I will miss you.”

She hardly knew who she was, embracing a man to who she wasn’t related to. Embracing a man who her entire life she had been fed stories of fierce warriors and noble savages. He was noble, he was fierce, and he was kinder and more generous than others she knew who thought themselves to be better men. They were not. Mary was convinced, Mr. Hanska was the better.

She rubbed she patted Kim on the flank. She couldn’t quite bring herself to embrace the sauran. But Kim too had also changed her perceptions of the world around her.

Marshall handed her her coat. “You’ve got to carry your own things now. We no longer have a beast of burden to accompany us.”

“I thought that’s what you were,” she smirked up at him.

Marshall chuckled deep in his gut. It was the kind of sound that Mary could grow to love.

Mary kept her complaints to herself as they trekked through the even terrain. Marshall found a small branch that he used as a walking stick.

After watching Marshall with the staff her day she finally questioned him. “Why do you have a large walking stick? You are hardly a feeble old man.”

“This isn’t just a walking stick. It’s going to be a handy club if needed.”

“Why on earth would you need a cudgel?”

“For the wild animals out here.”

“But we haven’t seen any. Why would you need a cudgel to protect us from any wild animals? What do you expect to be out here?”

“We haven’t seen anything because we were traveling with a sizable saraun,” Marshall started. “Big cats, wolves, foxes. There are all kinds of predators out here that think we look a lot like lunch.”

“Oh! Should I have a big stick too?” Mary scurried in close behind Marshall, not wanting one of the aforementioned predators to think she was an easy meal. “

“It wouldn’t do you no harm.”

“And how does one pick a stick?” Mary asked as she started to look at the ground they were walking over.

“You just start picking them up and you’ll find one that feels right.”

“I don’t know if I can do this.” She let he hands fall uselessly to her sides. Every time she turned around she was overcome with the enormity of their situation.

“Miss Mary, you have learned to trap and cook a rabbit. If there’s anybody who can do this. It’s going to be you.”

“I think you have more faith in my abilities than I do than I do myself.”

Marshall stopped and turned to look at her. “Mary, you’ve been leading the life of a lady but now it’s time to learn to live a life on the land. And you’ve been doing a fine job of it. You’ve done much more than I anticipated.”

She could hardly believe her ears. Marshall was paying her a legitimate compliment. She dabbed at tears that suddenly formed in her eyes. She knew exactly why his simple compliment was causing a surge of emotion in her breast. He was the first man to ever think her capable of doing anything.

Marshall turned from her. Ignoring her sudden display of tears. “Come on, Mary don’t dawdle. You see those ridges up there?” Marshall pointed out into the distance. “We need to make them by nightfall so so I need you to pick up your pace. We need to go a little faster.”

“But my stick?”

“If we find one, we find one. You’ll be fine without it. What won’t be fine is if we don’t make it. We should be able to find some caves or at least a canyon wall to shelter up against.”

“But we’ve been sleeping in the—” she cut herself off. “We’ve been sleeping in the open with Kim. And Kim scares off the beasts, the little beasties that would want to eat us.”


It was hard walking in the hot sun somewhere along the way, Marshall stooped to pick up a nice hefty branch and handed it to Mary.

It was a decent walking stick a little on the big side, which was probably important if it also needed to serve her as a potential weapon.

The sunset, just as the terrain changed yet again. And cliff walls began to form around them. The sounds of nature changed from the random buzzes of bugs and chirps of birds to a mournful lowing sound that carried on the wind.

“That’s probably a herd of cattle over yonder,” Marshal pointed somewhere vaguely North. “We don’t have to worry about cows. And if there are cows close by, we may not have to worry too much about predators.”

“Maybe they’ll go after the cows instead?” Mary asked.

“Exactly. What I’m concerned with is…” he paused and held his finger up. There was a chittering sound. He raised his eyebrows nodded and pointed at Mary. “That. That’s the sound we have to be aware of.”

“And what is that?” Mary asked.

“Well,” Marshall hemmed and hawed, drawing out his answer. “You’re not gonna like this.”

Find out in the next installment what it is that Mary is not going to like.

©2022 Lulu M Sylvian

Berserker Boys Wolf now available in Shifters Ever After



If you can’t get enough of those dreamy shifters and other supernatural creatures, escape reality and go along for a journey of tantalizing tales with Wolves, Lions, Dragons, Bears, oh my, and so many more.

Realize your dreams and live the fantasy with #shifterseverafter brought to you by #shiftersunleashed  



An Improper Derailment: Chapter 22

Where Mary gets treated like some package and pouts

Untitled design (2)

Catch up with Chapter 21…

Start the series from the beginning…

Mary pounded into Marshall’s back with weak fists and kicked.

“Hold still.” Marshall smacked the side of her hip close to her backside.

Mary gasped, “The impropriety of it all!”

“Stop wiggling, or you’re gonna fall.”

He turned and strode back to Kim’s side. Where he lifted her up until Hanska gasped her and hauled her the rest of the way onto the sauran’s back.

“You’re gonna stay up there. You want to pout you, pout up there. I’m not gonna have you behave like this while we are out in the wild. You don’t know how to hunt. You barely know how to snare a rabbit. You still haven’t succeeded in starting a fire. You barely know how to forage for what won’t kill you. And yes, your grandfather hired me to make sure you’ve made it from Chicago to San Francisco safely. And I’m going to do my job.”

At some point in time, the steady rocking motion of Kim’s forward gate lulled Mary to sleep. When she woke it was sunset and she was no longer on the back of Kim. She was curled up next to a fire. The smell of roasting rabbit filled her senses.

She looked around and saw neither man. The familiar pervasive sent of Kim let her know that the beast was nearby. Constantly guarding her. She was safe from wild predators in the presence of the tric.

Her heart hurt with her situation. She didn’t like knowing that her family saw her as nothing more than a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder. Knowing that her grandfather didn’t actually care for her wellbeing as much as he cared for how much money she could bring in. That’s all he had ever been concerned with.

He never got over the fact that he was too old and too late to have made his fortune in the California gold rush. But he was determined to make his fortune. Unfortunately, he lost a fortune just as frequently with his gambling problems and his poor judgment of speculation schemes.

Janie had gotten so lucky with Charles. He was handsome. He was as like-minded as Janie in her focus on things that were of little importance in the greater scheme of the world. They shared an interest in things of fashion and society. He wasn’t concerned with problems in the world or cattle drives or surviving on nothing out on the plains.

And yet, here Mary was stuck with, she had to admit they were honorable men, having done nothing but ensure her safety. There was not one single untoward glance, and they did not tend toward improper conversation in her presence. Marshall Hunt had proven by action alone he was more of a gentleman than Pythagoras Peterson would ever be.

She ground her fist into her eyes, and she sniffed away her tears. Crying never solved anything and feeling sorry for herself was going to help. And yet, she felt sorry for herself, sorry for the girl who was terrified of saurans because they were loud and smelly. And she felt sorry because no one had ever bothered to introduce her to an animal larger than a horse.

There was an entire population of creatures out in the world that she knew nothing about, in a world she knew nothing about. She felt sorry for the girl who thought horrible things of native men. When Mr. Hanska had been nothing but kind and protective.

She cast her gaze about, she was alone. A haunch of rabbit was set on a stone next to the fire, keeping the meat warm. Her mouth watered at the prospect of the fire-roasted meal. Marshall was right. She would never survive out here on her own.

What perils will Mary face next on her journey to regaining the railway? Find out in the next installment… 

©2022 Lulu M Sylvian

Andra Dill Interview, Paranormal Unbound Author

Set the shifter romance free, the readers said… So they did.
Dragons, Bears, Wolves, Vampires, Witches, and more. Delve into the magical tales in this paranormal romance and urban fantasy collection for zero pennies.
What more could you ask for? Snag your happily ever after today!


Andra Dill, one of the authors featured in Paranormal Unbound,  tells us about her contribution to this anthology: Smudged Magic

Hexed by a black-magic witch and transformed into a cat, Roseanne needs her big sister, Neva, to come through with a counter-spell. Fast.

Neva’s green-magic creates amazing protective wards, but it can’t break a curse.

As Neva delves into her treasure trove of grimoires and family archives, the black-witch is determined to breach her protective wards and capture Roseanne. It’s a battle against time and powerful magic, but Neva will do anything for her family.


Q: What book/movie was your “gateway drug” into paranormal romance? 

The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice. I won’t swear that was the first paranormal book I ever read but it is the one that made a lasting impression on me. Lestat’s personality, his sexuality, his charisma, and his irreverence hooked me.

Q: Is your story in Paranormal Unbound a stand-alone or does it introduce readers to other characters/ worlds of yours? 

Smudged Magic is a stand-alone.

Q: What other Shifters Unleashed anthologies have you participated in/ what stories? 

Shifters For A Cause—I wrote Luck of the Draw, a steamy story about cougar shifter Paige and the persistent jaguar shifter, Logan.

Q: What up-coming anthologies can we find more from you? Please tell us about those stories.
A Measure of Happiness—is a stand-alone historical fantasy book (part of The Casket Girl Chronicles) that takes place in 1728 Louisiana Territory. Mariette became a vampire the night of her mother’s murder. Alone and without her maker to guide her, everything she knows about her new reality has been learned through trial and error. She leaves France behind, seeking a new life with her trapper husband in the wilds of Louisiana. There are problems (of course) and twists, like accusations of witchcraft and dark rumors.

Overindulgence is in the Eternal Love Affair anthology. A steamy romance with a healthy serving of adventure, this story stars a sexy vampire and the hired killer who stumbles into his territory.

I’m currently writing a witch and vampire paranormal romance that will appear in the anthology A Dance of Blood and Magic.

Q: When you write do you visually base your characters off actors/famous people? Please give some examples.

No, my characters are average people put into unusual circumstances.

Q: Why should we read short stories? 

Let me share with you why I enjoy reading them. Short stories allow me to drop immediately into a new slice of reality without a huge time investment. In forty-five minutes to a couple of hours I can immerse myself in a gripping story. It’s like a little vacation for my imagination. If the collection includes a favorite author, it’s a chance to delve into a side character (or main character) and get deeper into the overall series world. Or discover an entirely different side to that author’s writing style (or genre). Other times I have the pleasure of discovering a new-to-me author.

Q: Random party question: what’s your favorite pizza?

Canadian bacon and green olive.


“I’m worried I won’t be able to break the hex, Sagar. To transmogrify a person into an animal that takes black magic.” Rapping her knuckles on the glass, she looked over her shoulder. Sagar sat straddling the chaise; elbows braced on his splayed knees. Black tufts of hair stuck out wildly on his head. He looked ridiculous. Neva smiled, slowly stalking across the room towards him.

Grasping her wrist, he hauled her down to sit in front of him. He ran his fingers through her long chestnut hair, raking out the snarls. Neva tipped her head back and sighed. Tension leached out of her as he divided the tresses into sections, tugging gently, then began fashioning a braid.

“So, you think she was hexed over that jewelry she inherited from your crazy great-uncle?”

“Pieter wasn’t crazy. He was eccentric.” Neva squirmed back, wedging her curvy ass between the vee of his thighs.

“He was too crazy and a hoarder to boot, your Abuelita said so, and it isn’t healthy to disagree with that old gal.”

The elder matriarch wielded the dark arts expertly in the protection of her loved ones.
“Smart man.” Neva patted his leg.

“I’ll never forget her hexing me with fleas back when we were dating.”

“Lita did not hex you with fleas.”

“So you say.” Sagar pulled her back to recline against him. His soothing, familiar scent, musk, and summer sunshine surrounded her, and she melted against him.

When not daydreaming about plot lines and characters Andra practices yoga, reads voraciously, and drinks too much coffee. She loves road trips and going off on wild tangents. Andra writes in multiple genres—including but not limited to—urban fantasy, steamy romance, paranormal romance, and occasionally horror.

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